Long before I met and married my husband, I’d heard many people say positive things about being a step-parent, so I wasn’t terribly reluctant to accept a date with a divorced man who clearly wanted to remarry.
He had one child.
An only child—probably because the kid had killed and eaten his siblings.
This urchin was Beelzebub’s version of the Prince of Wales. Believe me, when this kid takes over, the prior administration will look like the cast of Oklahoma!
I met Damien when he was five going on 666. The first thing he did was bite my leg . . . hard. As I writhed in pain, what did Daddy say to Precious?
“Now, Damien, that wasn’t very nice. I think we might need a time-out, don’t you?”
The changeling had bitten me and Pop was negotiating with him!
Yeah, give him a time out, I thought. Because then he gets back in the ring, he’s gonna get such a punch!
Damien replies, “NO!”
“Now, Damien . . .”
“I said, ‘NONONONONONONONONONONONONO! What are you? Stupid?”
You know what his father did then? No, not give him a swat where he needed it most. Not hauling the little fiend off to his room. Not revoking television privileges for a week. No. He looked at this excrescence, squatted down, and chucking, gave him a big hug!
So father and son are having a Kodak moment, and I have been completely forgotten. Great. I limped to the phone to call my doctor before sepsis set in, and I’d just reached his office, when Damien’s father snatches the receiver out of my hand and hangs it up.
“What are you doing?” he hissed, between clenched teeth. “Don’t you know how badly it will affect his self-esteem if you go calling the doctor every time he plays with you?”
“Plays with me! The little bas. . . boy. . . bit me!”
“He’s only five! He’s just a child! Don’t you think you’re acting rather immaturely, blaming a child?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Cawson?” a meek little voice called.
“What is it, Damien?” I asked.
“I sowwy.” He had on an ultra-innocent look that did not fool me for a second. But fooling Papa with it was a no-brainer.
“Now, see that? Don’t you feel just terrible about what you were going to do? How do you think it would have made him feel?”
Probably victorious, I thought. Then I said, “All I wanted was some advice on what I should do about this bite. Oddly enough, I felt that my doctor would be able to give me that advice . . . and probably a stitch or two.” Blood was pouring from my leg like white water down the Colorado River.
Damien took one look at the blood and launched into hysterical crying. I got a black look from his father, as if the entire mess were my fault. So while he comforted the demon seed, I found my way to the bathroom, dumped some rubbing alcohol on the tear that was spurting arterial blood, bit down on a towel to keep from screaming, grabbed some dental floss, threaded a needle and stitched myself up.
When I returned to the scene of the crime, Damien’s father was conspicuously absent. “Where’s your father?” I asked.
“Oh, he left. He had to go to the store to buy me some candy. He always does just what I want because he loves me,” the pestilence said.
“Really,” was all I could muster.
“Hey, you wanna play a game?”
“Does it involve guns or knives?”
“Naw! Let’s play baseball!”
An hour later, Damien’s father still hadn’t returned; I imagine because sulfur-flavored bubble gum was hard to come by. Though my leg had stopped bleeding, I was now the proud owner of two compound fractures and a life-threatening concussion as a result of Damien’s facility with a Louisville Slugger. When he said, “Let’s play baseball,” I had no idea that I was meant to be the ball.
The second or third time I drifted into consciousness, the father of this human nightmare was standing over me, looking disgusted.
“Can’t you be a little more careful? I leave the house for ten minutes. . . “
“Two hours, by my watch,” I said as clearly as I could with a mouthful of broken teeth.
“Damien said you fell down. Have you been drinking?”
I found some strength from somewhere. “Fell down!? Fell down!? Your little delinquent smacked me around with his baseball bat!”
“YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER!” Damien shouted.
“You bet your butt I’m not, and I’m glad! I feel sorry for your mother. Giving birth to you must have been painful, what with the horns and the hooves. . .”
“I think you’d better go. You are obviously not suited to be a parent. You don’t understand Damien’s sensitive nature.”
“Oh, sure I do. I know he loves music . . . he plays you like a violin.”
I couldn’t resist. “You’re not my father!”
Then I crawled into the house and called for an ambulance. When I gave the operator the address, she sighed.
“Jesus Christ, hasn’t somebody killed that kid yet?”
“I don’t think it’s possible without a vat of holy water and an exorcist.”
“I guess I shouldn’t complain. He practically keeps this ambulance service in business singlehandedly.”
“Oh, yeah. Last month we had fifteen calls to that address. The month before, we. . .”
“You know, as fascinating as this is, I really need to get to a hospital soon.”
“Right. Ambulance on the way. Just lock yourself in the bathroom and sit tight. If that guy would just stop dating, it would save all of us a lot of grief. Well, bye, hon. Good luck.”
After I got out of the hospital I sent Damien and his father a couple of gifts.
For Dad, I sent a life-size female-shaped piñata.
For Damien, I sent over a pissed-off wolverine.
When last I heard, it was still recovering at the vet’s.